Expat Exchange
Treasure Beach, Jamaica

Retire in Jamaica

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Sep 23, 2022

Summary: Retirees share their experiences living in Jamaica. What are the challenges and rewards of retiring in Jamaica?

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What is it like to retire in Jamaica?

"If you're a culture vulture, Jamaica offers so much to see and do...no, it's not London, but you can take in local theatre (sometimes from the UK, USA etc), museums, opera and classical concerts, art galleries and shows...if you're a foodie, Jamaican food is superb, but you will also find everything from sushi to Lebanese cuisine, wine bars, night clubs...there really is something for everyone to meet all budgets...and on weekends, the beaches and mountains beckon," commented one retiree living in Kingston, Jamaica.

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How do I meet people in Jamaica?

When we asked people living in Jamaica about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"As far as meeting people, I think you'd have an easier time in Kingston -- lots of social clubs, nightlife, expat organizations, Lots of Jamaicans go to church, an underrated place to meet people. Jamaicans are quite friendly so once you meet a couple people you'll likely meet their friends as well," explained a retiree in Jamaica.

"Many non-Jamaicans without family or friends here join expat groups - I believe some have regular meet-ups. Otherwise you'll meet people most places - Cafe Blue in Sovereign Centre is a great place to hang out, and I know a lot of people work remotely from there `as I often do myself when I'm in need of human company daytime and my friends are at work in their offices...I've met a number of people there who've become good friends...there's also a Starbucks in Liguanea but I avoid that chain back in the UK and do same here," explained one retiree living in Jamaica.

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What is life like in Jamaica?

When we asked people living in Jamaica what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"I am not directly in Spanish Town. I am in a beautiful community called 'Green Acres'. There seems to be a number of retired citizens, who enjoy playing dominoes and socializing," said another retiree in Spanish Town.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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What do I need to know before retiring in Jamaica?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Jamaica, they said:

"Your first stop needs to be the PICA website. This is the immigration website and it will list the options available to you for residency. There’s more to it than just packing your bags and deciding you’re going to move to Jamaica… I do suggest however, that you come for three months, maybe extend it to six months, and actually live here. By that I mean, you’re gonna live like a local; not a tourist. There are two totally different things. You need to figure out how you’re going to find your lifestyle here… As you’re not gonna be able to work, unless your company has an office here and sponsors you for a work permit. Or, do you have enough money to start your own business. As for housing, buy or rent the best place you can afford… In a gated community. A high end gated community Ex: Freeport, Spring Garden, Spring Farm, Rose Hall, you don’t want to live in a typical Jamaican gated community that was built by developers.," remarked another retiree in Montego Bay.

"Moving here will require you to make a lot of socio-psychological adjustments, for instance, if you are someone who values ordered processes and systems - and I can only assume that as an account, this might be important to you, then you will need to adjust very quickly to the less agreeable aspects of Jamaica..there is a lot of bureaucracy but it doesn't always work in quite the way that westerners expect or at the pace that westerners might be used to. I'm from the UK, of African-Caribbean heritage, though not Jamaican, and I have been here for 18 months now, I truly love living here, but it requires, as I say, some degree of mental adjustments. Please do as much research as you're able to, do come for extended periods of time, get to know people, the neighbourhood you want to live in, etc before you commit to such a huge life changing decision," said a retiree who moved to Kingston, Jamaica.

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Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in Jamaica?

"For the freshest and best value fruits & vegetables go to the open-air market off Barnett Street. Progressive, MegaMart, Shoppers Fair & HiLo all good supermarkets. Chicken, pork, seafood/fish are plentiful and readily available. Beef is available and decent price but it's NOT USDA Prime! I've had some ribeye that I grilled on the bbq and they were decent, but not great. I tend to bypass beef most of the time except for ground beef. I did buy a couple T-Bone steaks (local western beef grain fed) the other day, $1522 / kg which works out to US$5.35 per pound. On average we spend about $12K a week on food/grocery for the 2 of us. That generally includes a couple bottles of wine... which there is NO 2 Buck Chuck here. Every couple weeks another $3K - $5K at the market for fruits & vegetables. In my opinion; the chicken, pork, fish and produce are better tasting and better for you than what you'll get in the states unless you grow/raise it yourself or buy pure organic," explained one retiree living in Montego Bay.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Treasure Beach, Jamaica

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